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Launch of Wagner Faith & Freedom Center Announced at SAU

Spring Arbor University announced the naming of the new Wagner Faith & Freedom Center, housed on SAU’s campus in Spring Arbor, Michigan, during a dedication ceremony this past Friday, November 4. The Wagner Faith & Freedom Center is the first center of its kind under the Spring Arbor Foundation, a 501(c)(3) organization that exists to support and serve the mission of Spring Arbor University. The Spring Arbor Foundation received funding to establish the center in 2021, in large part due to naming gifts from Lois Mol and Jim and Debra Mol, as well as additional gifts from other generous donors.

The Wagner Faith & Freedom Center is led by Distinguished Chair Prof. William Wagner, whom the Mol family chose to name the center after in recognition of his many years dedicated to preserving the free exercise of religious conscience on behalf of Christian people. In addition to his leadership of the Wagner Faith & Freedom Center, Wagner also serves as President and CEO of Salt & Light Global, a non-profit ministry advocating for faith and freedom for nearly 20 years. Wagner’s public service includes serving as a Federal judge in the United States Courts, legal counsel in the U.S. Senate, senior assistant United States attorney in the Department of Justice, an American diplomat, and Senior Advisor for Global Criminal Justice at the Department of State. Wagner is also a retired tenured professor holding the academic rank of Distinguished Professor Emeritus and has received the Beattie Award for Teaching Excellence and Barrister Award for Best Faculty Advisor. His writing is published in numerous journals, books, and other publications.

“​​Considering the impact the Wagner Faith & Freedom Center could have over the coming years in multiplying and expanding the phenomenal work of Spring Arbor University excites and motivates me tremendously,” commented Dr. Brent Ellis, President of Spring Arbor University, during the dedication ceremony on Friday. “We’ve worked diligently over the past several years to advocate for our ability to remain an unapologetically Christian university, and to now host a center whose purpose is to champion freedom of religion, conscience, and thought is truly remarkable.”

The vision and goal of the Wagner Faith & Freedom Center is to address the significant societal challenges facing the nation and world today by preserving freedom of thought, conscience, and religion. The center’s non-partisan, non-political work is focused on the following.

  • Preserving the inviolable and sacred dignity and worth of all human beings

  • Cultivating civility, despite deep ideological and religious differences

  • Creating a global public square where the free exercise of religion engages the marketplace of ideas, free from coercive censorship

  • Ensuring peace, good governance, stability, prosperity, charity, truth, justice, and the freedom to educate

  • Preventing tyranny and standing in defiance against secular state totalitarianism and religious state authoritarianism

  • Equipping the next generation to engage the culture to preserve and protect freedom of thought, conscience and religion

“Here, and around the world, the Wagner Faith & Freedom Center will leave a legacy of preserving freedom of thought, conscience, and religion – equipping the next generation to contend for truth, justice, and liberty with the heart of Jesus,” said Wagner. “Will you join us in our mission?”


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